Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) plan to introduce a bill Wednesday morning intended to prohibit the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from closing 149 federal contract tower facilities under budget sequestration, an industry source confirmed to AIN. A companion measure is also expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The closures were scheduled to begin this past Sunday, April 7, but late on Friday the FAA announced it would temporarily delay its three-phase closure plan until June 15 to allow the agency time to “resolve multiple legal challenges” to the loss of control towers at smaller airfields catering primarily to general aviation traffic. “While airports and air travelers across the country are breathing a sigh of relief, the Department of Transportation’s decision to delay the closing of air traffic control towers is not a solution,” said Sen. Moran after the FAA’s announcement. Last month Moran proposed an amendment to save the towers as part of a continuing resolution to maintain funding to federal agencies through the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Senate leaders declined to bring the measure to a vote.